july 2010 asimov’s

As promised yesterday…

Asimov’s, July 2010

A couple good stories, and a nice futuristic cityscape cover.

  • “The Other Graces”, by Alice Sola Kim (short story). This story, about a young Korean-American woman applying to colleges with the telepathic help of future versions of herself, brought back both fond and not-so-fond memories of being in high school and trying to get into college, and of being in college. I identified with the main character a lot. It also got me to learn at least very basically how to enter Korean hangul into my computer so I could run Google Translate on it. (It turns out that 대황, used as a nonsense syllable throughout the story, translates to ‘rhubarb’.) Excellent.
  • “Haggle Chips”, by Tom Purdom (novelette). It had a promising opening line (“It was a very civilized hijack.”), but I got as far as that part where the (needless to say, male) main character was being assigned three women for “emotional regulation” by his captors and punted. Maybe it gets better from there; perhaps I will come back to it later. I’m increasingly running out of interest in SF that exercises the fantasies and fears of white heterosexual men, lately, because I’ve read it all already.
  • “Eddie’s Ants”, by D.T. Mitenko (short story). Another promising opening line (“Eddie laughs when he finds out what a gun does.”), and a bit of a cute premise (a man tries repeatedly and ever more creatively to kill an alien hive mind for stealing his girlfriend), but ultimately it’s another plot driven by white heterosexual male insecurity. I came back to it after I’d read the rest of the magazine, and it was okay — some mildly interesting discussion of human society as a cooperative organism, akin to ants or bees — but nothing particularly special.
  • “The Jaguar House, In Shadow”, by Aliette de Bodard (novelette). Set in the universe of her forthcoming “Aztec fantasy” novel Servant of the Underworld (in September), a universe where the Chinese discovered America before Columbus. A fascinating (and fascinatingly alien) set of interlocking religious and political systems, conflicted and sympathetic characters, some meditation on leadership, especially leadership under a corrupt higher leader. From a technical standpoint, it has some continuity issues, which I lay at the feet of the editors mostly, but those are relatively minor. Easily the best thing by her I’ve read to date (and I feel like there was something besides February’s “The Wind-Blown Man”, but I can’t remember what).
  • “Amelia Pillar’s Etiquette for the Space Traveller”, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (short story). What is says on the tin. Short. Cute.
  • A History of Terraforming, by Robert Reed (novella). I started it but the main character didn’t compel me, the main antagonist(?) was a cartoonishly-manipulative female environmentalist straight from Central Casting, and, having skimmed the end, it’s more than a bit heavy-handed in its didacticism. Not really worth it.

I’m still awake (Thursday), so I should at least get through the Asimov’s